Gossip, Set, and Match by Koosie
Chapter 2 - Operation: Drewdy

To: Fairy Gossipmonger
From: Christine Lin
Matchmaking Help?

Dear Miss Monger,

I've got an interesting request for you. I am absolutely convinced that Mandy Patricks and Drew Ryder are meant for each other, they are just in complete denial…and dealing with it in the absolute wrong way. So ideas on how to get them together?

Thanks, Christine

The role of U-Boats in WWI. When I had selected the topic for my history paper, I thought I had actually found the one thing that would be fun to research. But trust historians to make submarine battles the most boring topic in the world. So I wouldn't say it was completely my fault that I was checking Fairy Gossipmonger's inbox instead of using the computer time that Mr. Johnson gave our class for research. There was only so much of the dry history prose that I could take at a time before my mind started to fog over. Besides, Christine Lin's email was way more interesting. It was the first time that I got an email suggesting a match and such an intriguing one at that.

If there were two people you should never stick into a room together, it was Mandy and Drew. Mandy's personality could only be described as fiery. It was as if she could not help but put her heart and soul into everything that she did. Fortunately for the world, a good portion of Mandy's fire went towards any charitable event that she could garner enough money for. For a good part of middle school, Mandy was known as Panhandy Mandy for always jingling coins jars in people's faces. Somehow, schoolchildren cruelty didn't faze Mandy as much as it would have the rest of us as she ended up starting up the high school's Philanthropy Club.

If Mandy were fire, I would say that Drew was her deadly fuel. Nothing could infuriate Mandy more than Drew's cocky, smug demeanor. And nothing was more entertaining to Drew than an absolutely infuriated Mandy. It was a vicious cycle. Everyone in Mr. Gordon's fifth period history class sophomore year learned just how dangerous the combination was as Drew and Mandy were pitted against each other in a series of flaming debates. I, sadly, was not assigned to the class to be in of the year, but it didn't take long for word to get around about the infamous debates. It was obvious that Mr. Gordon took great pleasure in watching the two students go at each other's throats because he made sure to put them on opposing teams every chance he got. Well, until during one rather heated debate, Mandy sent Mr. Gordon's prized gavel he kept at his podium flying across the room in a fit of frustration.

Flying gavels should have been a bright yellow warning sign for me, but I was already too far gone in my intricate plotlines about sworn enemies becoming the perfect couple. You know, the type of couple that fought and fought, but deep down were absolutely in love with each other. That had to be Mandy and Drew. If anyone could keep Drew in check, it was Mandy. And Drew may be the only person persistent enough to actually get Mandy to loosen up every so often. It was perfect.

Excitement was bubbling up inside me. I was totally onto a good match. Mandy and Drew had no idea what was about to hit them. Besides, Fairy Gossipmonger was in need of a good challenge.

If it was hard to focus on my history research paper before reading Christine's match idea, staying on task was completely out of the question now. So when the final bell rang nearly half an hour later, I was out of my seat and violently swinging my backpack over my shoulder in an attempt to make it out the classroom as soon as possible. I was dying to start piecing together Operation: Drewdy. Or Mandrew. Of course they both had to sound horrible. I needed a better name for my new pet project.

Weaving through the crowded halls, my eyes darted back and forth, looking for any hint of red. I was so focused on my search that I nearly jumped out of my skin when a hand landed on my shoulder followed by a breathless "Mackie!" But even that didn't stop me from continuing down the hallway at madwoman speed. I merely spared a quick glance towards the direction of the arm to send a quick "Hey, Zach."

"You look like a girl on a mission," Zach laughed as he took large strides to match my pace.

"Well, it's the only way to make it through these halls alive," I responded with a smile as I abruptly halted in front of my locker.

"Right. And killing me in the process." Zach groaned with a slight pant as he scratched the back his head, ruffling his short crop of blond hair. "But I take it your ankle is all better. I'm not sure if I can say the same for your head though," Zach added giving a light tap to the side of my head. "It's just the school hallway, not some crazy war zone."

Swinging the door of my locker open, I turned back to Zach. "I resent that. There's nothing wrong with being time efficient."

"Next time, think of the poor guys chasing after you, 'kay?" Zach grinned shifting the weight of his black backpack that hung on his shoulders.

Laughing, I frantically swapped books and folders between my locker and backpack. "I'll try to keep that in mind."

"Good." Zach leaned against the next locker to sink closer to eye level to me. "You know, you left the party just in time on Friday," he added.

"Really?" I asked slamming my locker and finally turning fully towards Zach. The thought that I may have missed some good drama nearly casted away thoughts of the mission I was currently on. "What happened?"

"Kelly Hernandez went on a rampage, and then proceeded to puke all over Reese's shoes when he tried to calm her down."

"Seriously? Poor Reese." I knew it wasn't my fault, but for some reason, I felt semi-responsible for leaving him in Kelly's hands. "And Kelly," I added as an afterthought. Kelly probably wasn't saying the nicest of things prior to her unfortunate accident, but that was embarrassment no one deserved.

"Yeah so consider yourself lucky you got out of there when you did. Everyone lost their partying mood after seeing all the contents of Kelly's stomach splattered on the floor."

"Gross, but that must have been quite the—" I lost my words, however, when just the girl I was looking for just turned the corner. "Sorry Zach, I've really got to get going," I exclaimed rushing off towards Nicci.

"Oh, OK. Well then see you later!" Zach called after me.

I turned back to see Zach giving me a bright smile and a quick wave, which I returned just as I reached Nicci.

"Next time, I'm learning from you and throwing myself at a guy…literally," Nicci declared by my side.

"Huh? What do you mean?" I asked, giving her my best innocent look. I nearly forgot my own embarrassing move from Nicci's party.

"No point denying it. I saw you klutz out right into Zach at my party. But I'm amazed at how well that tactic worked. You ditched him not once, but now twice and he's still interested." Shaking her head, Nicci continued, "I don't know what you are doing coming over to me when you could still be talking to him."

"I have no idea what you are talking about," I retorted. "There is nothing going on between Zach and I."

"Right," Nicci drawled.

"Whatever," I sighed knowing that there was no point in arguing with Nicci. "I need to talk to you. I won't be able to come to the staff meeting today."

"What, now you are going to ditch me too?" Nicci cried out in mock hurt.

"Yes…and no," I floundered pulling at a lock of my brown hair. "Well, yes. But for a good reason. I have a new idea for my column topic for this upcoming issue. I want to cover Philanthropy Club's Valentine's Day fundraiser. So that means I need to sit in on their meeting, which starts…well, now." Without me realizing it, the crowded halls were already emptying out.

"Fine, fine. Go ahead," Nicci relented making a shooing motion with her hand. "But I expect a written proposal about your article idea to me tomorrow."

"Will do. Thanks Nicci!" I exclaimed hopping off in the direction of the Philanthropy Club meeting.

"But promise me you won't go ditching Zach next time," Nicci added before I was able to fully escape her.

"I still don't know what you are talking about!" I called back not giving myself the time to consider if what Nicci was insinuating held any veracity. I was, after all, a girl on a mission.

Mandy's booming voice, which seeped out of Ms. West's classroom, signaled that I was at the right place, so I tried to creep into the room as quietly as possible, hoping to not interrupt the meeting that was already starting.

"Mackie, hi. Did you need something?" Mandy immediately asked when I stepped fully into the room, causing all other heads to turn my way.

"Uh, hey. Sorry to interrupt. But actually, I was hoping to write an article on you guys, so is it all right if I sit in on the meeting?" I asked sheepishly, feeling slightly self-conscious about all the curious looks directed towards me at my sudden arrival.

"Sure. You came just in time. We were just starting to discuss what we will be doing for our next project."

"Awesome." I was hoping that was the case. Now to start getting my plan into action. I quietly took the seat closest to where Mandy had stopped me in my tracks.

"So for the next few weeks, we will, of course, be working on the Valentine Gram fundraiser for the Hearts for New Hearts Charity." Mandy picked up where she had left off, her arms waving animatedly as she spoke. To match her personality, Mandy's choice of clothing was just as cause-oriented as she was. I couldn't recall a day that Mandy wasn't wearing a t-shirt or hoodie broadcasting a cause of some kind. Today, she had on a black hoodie that declared "Free Tibet."

"Hi, I'm Jenny," the blonde girl next to me whispered, then pointing to the couple next to her she added, "And this is my sister Lucy and her boyfriend Arron." Lucy looked very much like her younger sister, with long straight blond hair and bright blue eyes, while Arron, with his spiky brown hair and brown eyes seemed to contrast his girlfriend's features.

"Hi, it's nice to meet you all," I whispered back. I recognized Lucy Hector and Arron James. Also a senior, I once had a class with Arron, and wherever Arron was, Lucy was not too far behind. I wouldn't have pegged Arron for Philanthropy Club, so perhaps he was here because of Lucy. Jenny I hadn't been able to place a name to prior to her introduction. If I had to guess, I'd say she was a sophomore. I've noticed her sitting with some of the other marching band students during lunch, so she was likely also in band.

"And that's Rhiannon and Terri," Jenny added noticing me eyeing the redhead and brunette sitting in front of us. "They're both freshmen. And up front are—"

"Christine, Julie and Angie," I finished for Jenny. The trio were the best of friends, which was obvious by the way they whispered amongst themselves as Mandy spoke.

"Oh, so you know them already."

"Yep, thanks for the intros, have you been part of the club long?" I asked giving the girl a smile.

"I did it last year as well. Lucy was already in the club, so it was natural for me to join when I started high school," Jenny explained. "We're always in need of more members."

"Well, I'm happy to help however I can," I declared before focusing back on Mandy.

"What we need to do now is form committees to get all the preparations together," Mandy announced already trying to get her plan put in motion.

My hand quickly shot up in the air. I needed to throw my kink into Mandy's plans before she got too far ahead.

"Christine, you can help get the flowers in bulk again like last year, right?" Mandy continued, either not noticing my hand or just ignoring it.

"You should just interrupt her, or she'll just keep going," Jenny suggested to me.

Taking her advice, I spoke up, "Mandy, sorry to interrupt."

"Yes?" Mandy asked, with what I was sure was a hint of irritation. That was about to go up ten-fold after hearing what I had to say.

"I hope I'm not overstepping any boundaries, but what about trying to do a collaboration with another school group to get more support for the cause?" I asked feebly, very aware of how Mandy's eyes continued to narrow towards me.

"Collaboration." Mandy sounded out each syllable as if she wasn't sure she heard me correctly. Or at least hoping she hadn't heard me correctly.

"Well, yeah. Like, you know, you could get help from another group, such as, I don't know, the guy's basketball team?" I said trying to sound like this was all off the top of my head.

"You know, I think that's a great idea. School unity is very important," Ms. West piped up from the back of room before Mandy had a chance to reject my suggestion. This was going to be easier than I thought. I hadn't even considered just getting Ms. West on board.

"You're right Ms. West!" Christine added, turning towards Ms. West. Her warm brown eyes lit up completely sold on the idea. "And we could probably even do more to raise money with their help."

"Right! Like a carwash to raise more money!" I interjected trying to get the momentum going. I was way too excited for my own good. I could see it now. Drew being Drew would not pass up on the chance to provoke Mandy with the water hose. And there was no way Mandy wouldn't fight back. And before you know it they will be soaking wet and laughing together.

"But it's way too cold for a carwash," Mandy countered matter-of-factly. Crap. She had a point. Instead of catching the love bug, they would be catching some nasty bug and would hate each other even more. And who was I kidding? A water fight would just escalate the animosity between the two.

"Well, then a bake sale," I suggested back. I could get them in the kitchen, a food fight would ensue and – no, they are still fighting.

"Cheers already does an annual bake sale," Mandy automatically deadpanned. She was too good at immediately knocking down my ideas.

"But Mandy, I think Mackie's on to something. We do Valentine Grams every year, if we add something new, that may gain more attention," Christine spoke up.

"Well, then what about some kind of silent auction?" Terri suggested tilting her head to the side. A silent auction probably won't require tons of interaction between Mandy and Drew, but it also doesn't inevitably lead to some fight, so perhaps I could work with that.

"Or better yet, what about a date auction?" Jenny exclaimed nearly leaping out of her chair.

"A DATE AUCTION?" I yelped at precisely the same time Mandy did. Mandy wore an expression of complete horror, which I didn't doubt was to some extent reflected in my own face. A date auction would have too many other girls flocking over to Drew that trying to put Mandy and him to would be a matchmaker's nightmare. But, that would mean lots of other fun matchmaking potential…

"Yeah, you know we could auction the basketball players off as dates for Valentine's Day. Especially with the dance and all," Jenny continued not the least bit deterred by the death looks Mandy was sending her way. The Fairy Gossipmonger in me couldn't help but wonder: was there someone in particular Jenny wanted to have a chance at nabbing for herself?

"Oh my God! That's brilliant!" Christine added becoming just as excited as Jenny, her shiny black hair bouncing up with her. With the Christine vouching for the idea, the rest of the club quickly was up in a tizzy about the suggestion.

"Do you think the guys will be willing to go for that?" I heard myself lamely trying to counter. It was completely hopeless. With Drew as the basketball team captain, how could they not go for the idea? Drew would have wished he came up with the idea himself. But I had to try. Mandy and Drew had somehow already become my priority. Not to mention, there was something about buying the affection of a guy for Valentine's Day that just didn't sit right with me.

"Is this really how we want to put ourselves out there? Raising money with a date auction?" Mandy yelled over the excitement, also trying her hand at shooting down the idea. It was clear no one was listening, so Mandy tried to appeal to a calmer party. "What do you think Ms. West?"

"I don't see what's wrong as long as the guys are willing to do it, it can be fun." Well, so much for that.

"So it's decided, we'll ask the basketball guys to help us sell Valentine Grams as well as hold a date auction," Christine declared upon hearing Ms. West's approval. Calls of agreement rang through the room as Mandy was just left to groan. "Great! Then Mandy and I will talk to the basketball team to make sure they are in, and in the meantime we can start working out logistics for the Valentine Grams. Mandy?"

Slightly dejected, Mandy picked up where I had stopped her and began forming groups to get the materials needed for the fundraiser as I chewed on this new development. I just had to figure out how to spin this my way.


"Right into Zach Bent's arms? How romantic!" I could hear the jesting laugh that Maddie was holding back once I had finished retelling my near face-plant to the floor over the phone. It was the first time we were able to talk since I returned home from visiting my best friend and despite her teasing, it was nice to hear her voice. After spending years attached to the hip, being on opposite sides of the country took quite some getting used to.

"It was mortifying. I mean, I was trying to eavesdrop and tripped right into him. His arms were there to push me back on my feet, not romantically hug me to him," I added, trying to downplay any possible romantic notions. I knew Maddie was just teasing me, but after Nicci's insinuations, I didn't need more.

"Geez, who are you and what happened to my Mackie? You romanticize everything." When I didn't immediately reply, Maddie continued. "Fine, let me help you. Mackenzie Carwyn, matchmaker extraordinaire and girl everyone can't help but love, gracefully trips and falls into the arms of Zach Bent, high school football star and heartthrob. Their eyes meet for just a second, but to the two lovebirds, it feels like an eternity. And in that moment, as they were lost in each other's eyes, they knew they had found their other half. It was magical."

I grimaced at the way Maddie had drawn out the word magical. "I really don't sound like that do I?"

"Given that I do an amazing imitation of you, I'd have to say yes." She had to be kidding.

"Sure, sure. But really, it was nothing like that with me and Zach. Besides, Alison Larimer and Katrina Jun both already like him," I countered, readjusting the pillow I was leaning against on my bed as I opened my laptop sitting on my lap.

Maddie huffed. "So it's Fairy Gossipmonger who has gotten in the way. Mackie, if you take away all the guys who already have people with crushes on them, what would that leave you?"

I causally scrolled through Fairy Gossipmonger's inbox, which was displayed on the computer screen in front of me, as I considered who have been requested. "There's still a good amount left."

"Uh, yeah. All the subpar guys no one wants." Ouch.

"Maddie, they still have their merits," I countered, automatically feeling sorry for the unwanted guys.

"Just saying. But don't tell me you are trying to help both Alison and Katrina get Zach."

"Uh, maybe?" The truth was, Fairy Gossipmonger work was never very clean cut and simple. For a number of the requests I get, I can't say with certainty that they will lead to a match. I usually just have to let them know that Fairy Gossipmonger is on the case, but it may take some time. Then, it's the slow process of gathering information of both whether a crush is reciprocated along with just general information on the crush. I try to give as much information I can and hope they can act on it. It's a quite behind the scenes job, but maybe that's why I'm so excited about Mandy and Drew. This time, Fairy Gossipmonger's getting hands on.

"Mackenzie!" Maddie screeched as I had to pull the phone away from my ear.

"Well, they both could suit Zach well, so what should I do?" I shrugged although Maddie couldn't see it.

"Pick a side and run with it? High school already has enough drama without you fueling a love triangle."

"So I shouldn't tell you about a possible love hexagon?" I half-joked. I had to admit that that was quite possible, though.

"You're kidding me, right? I'm surprised that South Creek has not erupted with mass drama due to all your meddling."

"Meddling? And here I thought I was helping the students of South Creek." I could only hear Maddie's laugh, but I could imagine her also shaking her head at me on the other side. Maddie had always believed that being Fairy Gossipmonger was unhealthy, but when I pull out the "well, you left me" card, she usually relented.

"Anyways, guess who's next in line for Fairy Gossipmonger's meddling," I said. Maddie was going to disapprove, but I was bursting to tell someone about my brilliant new plans.

"Mackenzie Carwyn and Zach Bent."

"No, let it go Maddie, that's not happening," I retorted.

"Why not? It'd be rather cute, if I don't say so myself." So she was serious about that. Great, I was not going to hear the end of this.

"Drew and Mandy," I revealed, pulling the conversation away from Zach and I. I did not want to get into my hypothetical love life.

"Drew Ryder and Mandy Patricks? Are you kidding me?" Maddie screeched yet again through the phone.

"Nope." I smiled knowing I got the shock reaction out of Maddie that I was hoping to get.

"Wait, who's the one who contacted Fairy Gossipmonger? I can't picture either one of them doing that."

"Christine Lin did. She thinks they would make a good couple, and I agree."

"What was it that I said about your meddling? Mass drama and whatnot was it? Mackie this is a disaster just waiting to happen."

"But handled in just the right way, it could be an amazing love story just waiting to happen." I cringed the minute the words came out of my mouth. I just called Drew and Mandy "an amazing love story just waiting to happen." Maybe Maddie's imitation isn't all that far off.

"Like the love story between you and Zach?" Maddie would not let herself be distracted.

"Ugh. Seriously, Maddie. Not happening."

"Why not? You're always like this you know." Irritation was seeping through the phone line. Maybe telling Maddie about Mandy and Drew wasn't the best idea.

"Like what?"

"Shying away from potential guys. Like with Ben. We spent years crushing on him and the minute you just might have a chance, you back away." Really? Was that what Maddie thought?

"Ben and I are just friends," I insisted.


"No, Maddie, this is different. After working with him, I can't ever imagine being anything more than friends. It would just be weird," I tried to explain.

"I'm just saying, you deserve someone great as well Miss Matchmaker. Like with me and Greg, things have just been great." Great, she was gushing about Greg again. I mean, it wasn't like I wasn't happy for Maddie. I really wanted to be, but it was weird. Unsettling. Meeting Greg when I visited Maddie over winter break made me really realize that I wasn't Maddie's number one anymore. Plus, I was convinced that Greg didn't like me. When I tried to tell Maddie that, she just laughed it off saying I was paranoid. Maddie's never sided against me, especially when I know I'm right. I don't think I was imaging how he would always glare at me with pursed lips as if I was some nuisance whenever Maddie wasn't looking.

As Maddie babbled on about her most recent date with Greg, I clicked on the new email that had popped up for Fairy Gossipmonger.

"You're kidding." The words came out of my mouth before I had fully comprehended what was displayed on the screen.

"What? Of course not. Mackie?" Maddie confusedly asked through the phone, jolting me back to the fact that I was supposed to be listening to her.

"I, uh, I've got to go Maddie. I'll call you later," I said, hanging up the phone without waiting to hear Maddie's response. Putting my phone down, I reread the email in front of me.

To: Fairy Gossipmonger
From: T.F. Catcher
(no subject)

Miss Monger,

Mackenzie Carwyn has recently caught my eye. Would you by chance know who she likes?

T.F. Catcher

Now this was a disaster waiting to happen.

AN: Thanks so much for everyone who has expressed interest in my story, especially those who took the time to review! I'm really excited about what's to come, so I hope you all enjoy it too.